From [TBC] To The Polar Lands - Rolling Russia / "Near Abroad" News Thread

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Late in the year to be starting a rolling news thread but plenty of news around.

New law to limit foreign ownership of media outlets to 20%, down from 50%, proposed, likely to strengthen pro-government sources:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/23/us-russia-media-idUSKCN0HI1U120140923

Fairly large anti-war protests in Moscow last week:

http://rt.com/news/189472-moscow-opposition-march-ukraine/

Depressingly, polling suggests that Putin might actually be winning back support from 'liberal' Moscow and St Petersburg, though - traditionally the only real focal points for opposition. How long that will last if rouble continues to decline remains a question.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky has formed a new political platform in exile and says that he'd be willing to lead Russia, if called upon. For the record, i would also be willing to lead Russia if called upon and would estimate my chances of it actually happening to be roughly the same. Note the shift from "oligarch" to "tycoon" in the western press over the last few years.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/21/mikhail-khodorkovsky-breaks-political-silence-prepared-lead-russia

In other exile news, Saakashvili now lives in Williamsburg and is still kind of a dick:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/20/world/europe/mikheil-saakashvili-georgias-ex-president-plots-return-from-williamsburg-brooklyn.html?_r=1

In other oligarch news, Vladimir Yevtushenkov, owner of Bashneft, and one of the richest men in Russia is still under house arrest:

http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/750974

Seen by some as a warning shot to oligarchs to think twice about trying a 'palace coup' vs Putin to head off further economic losses. More likely a warning shot to the west that tightening the vice on Russia's economy with sanctions might be met with further moves to consolidate Kremlin control domestically.

Speculation that Russia has signed a $10bn agreement with South Africa to build nuclear power stations, denied for the moment by the SA government.

The most popular foreign leader, according a poll of Ukrainians, is...Alexander Lukashenko!Despite widely being thought of, in Russia, and the west, as a moron, Lukashenko has played both sides pretty well in the Ukraine crisis and is apparently gaining popularity in Belarus. idk if his wife is still under house arrest.

http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2014/09/23/7038653/

Gulnara Karimova has hired a UK-based PR company to highlight her own house arrest in Tashkent. Still a really weird situation.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-29251609

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 24 September 2014 10:17 (three years ago) Permalink

ShariVari for president of Russia, I support

, Wednesday, 24 September 2014 12:03 (three years ago) Permalink

Depressingly, polling suggests that Putin might actually be winning back support from 'liberal' Moscow and St Petersburg

polling by whom? given that the media is coming more closely under kremlin control, how reliable can these conclusions be?

busted (art), Wednesday, 24 September 2014 12:55 (three years ago) Permalink

Polling conducted by the Levada Center is generally thought to be fairly reliable outside of Russia. They are independent of government and tracked Putin's decline in popularity before he bounced back up.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 24 September 2014 13:47 (three years ago) Permalink

Sanctions starting to hit Muscovites where it hurts:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-25/sushi-bubble-pops-for-moscow-middle-class-as-ruble-drops.html

Fish costs jumped 30 percent in the past month, according to Dve Palochki’s Sukhochev. Customers at the 40-restaurant chain, which uses 15 tons of salmon a month, also have complained about the pale color of the Chilean salmon, he said. Sukhochev plans to roll out a new menu next month that will pass some of the added costs on to consumers.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 25 September 2014 07:20 (three years ago) Permalink

Feel like this is a good thread to link to this http://mariaturchenkova.com/projects/putins-rule/

, Thursday, 25 September 2014 11:45 (three years ago) Permalink

The series from Dagestan on her site is very good.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 25 September 2014 11:50 (three years ago) Permalink

New report on political prisoners in Uzbekistan.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/26/thousands-jailed-uzbekistan-politically-motivated-charges

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 26 September 2014 05:36 (three years ago) Permalink

The Prosecutor General has requested that Bashneft be returned to state control:

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/sep/26/russian-oligarch-vladimir-yevtushenkov-stake-bashneft-oil-seized

Yevtushenkov, who was previously the 15th richest Russian with a net worth of £5.5bn, according to Forbes Russia, was unexpectedly charged with money laundering and embezzlement earlier this month. The accusations relate to his 80% stake in Bashneft, acquired over almost a decade from structures controlled by Ural Rakhimov, who has been placed under an international search warrant. Rakhimov initially purchased Bashneft in 2003 from the government of Russia’s republic of Bashkortostan, which was at that time led by his father.

Yevtushenkov’s case has been labelled “Yukos 2.0” by the business community and likened to the case against oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whose leading Yukos oil company was broken up and absorbed by state energy champion Rosneft after he was sent to prison for a decade in 2003. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has denied the case is politically motivated.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Saturday, 27 September 2014 07:15 (three years ago) Permalink

A suicide bombing in Grozny killed five police officers yesterday:

http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/752809

Ramzan Kadyrov has his own commemorative coin:

http://i.imgur.com/Gw3Bp8Z.jpg

The Latvian ruling coalition (a mixture of centre-right, agrarian and hard-right parties) won about 60% of the vote in the election last week but the single largest party was broadly pro-Russian 'Harmony', on about 23%. Worth remembering that about 14% of Latvia's population (or 320,000, almost all of them Russian) aren't eligible to vote as 'non-citizens'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-citizens_(Latvia)

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Monday, 6 October 2014 11:37 (three years ago) Permalink

Wow that's a messed up status

, Monday, 6 October 2014 11:44 (three years ago) Permalink

Yes, it's the same in Estonia. Some people prefer it as it allows for easier movement to and from Russia but lots just find the naturalisation process (which requires competency in the absurdly complex Estonian language) too great a barrier. They can live there but have no right to vote.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Monday, 6 October 2014 17:02 (three years ago) Permalink

This is bonkers and already receiving pushback from members of the ruling party.

http://news.yahoo.com/ukraine-could-sack-million-officials-ties-russian-past-231947924.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Saturday, 11 October 2014 19:25 (three years ago) Permalink

Far-right clashing with police / government in Kiev:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-29611588

Tipping point seems to have been the failure of the government to formally recognise the wartime contribution of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army who allied themselves with the Nazis during WW2.

Sure it'll blow over before i'm there on Thursday.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Tuesday, 14 October 2014 13:47 (three years ago) Permalink

oh hey I missed this thread before, bookmarked and thank you!

sleeve, Tuesday, 14 October 2014 15:14 (three years ago) Permalink

Things are perversely quiet at Maidan Nezalezhnosti at the moment. I'm used to it being a hub of activity, commerce and, particularly in the run up to an election, political campaigning but there's nothing much happening now. There are some small shrines to those killed earlier in the year and enormous banners masking the most heavily damaged building proclaiming "long live Ukraine, long live the heroes". You can see where stones and bricks were prised up to use as weapons but there are few other visual signs anything happened.

My hotel doubles as the Ukraine Crisis Briefing Centre though most of the journalists seem to have gone elsewhere now. There are quite a few soldiers in fatigues sitting around outside - presumably back from the East and with nothing much to do now but drink beer and scratch up some money. There are plenty of people 'collecting for the war effort' but most are just using it as a ruse to scam some change.

The campaigning that is going on ahead of the election next week seems really subdued compared to normal. Blok Poroshenko, Timoshenko's group, Svoboda and the National Front are all present but there's very little energy and activity. I'm used to huge tents, lots of noise and lots of people but it's very quiet at the moment. The one huge element missing is the Party Of The Regions, of course.

There's more nationalist kitsch about and some Pravy Sektor graffiti here and there but no sign of the huge far-right presence that was here earlier in the week.

The one really obvious difference from the last time I was here is the sense of economic decline. Lots of shops in the glitzy malls are vacant, the main shopping streets are very quiet and Bessarabsky Rynok looks almost like a normal fruit and veg market. The combination of uncertain incomes and rampant inflation has hit hard. Also fewer adverts for new flats and high-interest savings accounts.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 17 October 2014 13:11 (three years ago) Permalink

Radek Sikorski apparently told Politico that Putin had offered to partition Ukraine with Poland in a meeting with Donald Tusk in Moscow in 2008.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/20/us-ukraine-crisis-poland-sikorski-idUSKCN0I92A720141020

He's currently backtracking and getting rinsed by his own Prime Minister:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/polands-sikorski-under-fire-over-russia-interview/2014/10/21/d2d4ef24-5932-11e4-9d6c-756a229d8b18_story.html

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Tuesday, 21 October 2014 16:57 (three years ago) Permalink

Looks like the Russia / Ukraine gas deal has stalled. The price has been agreed but Ukraine simply doesn't have any money to pay either outstanding debts or for winter deliveries.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/10/22/uk-ukraine-crisis-gas-idUKKCN0IA16V20141022

Russia has said the EU should cover immediate costs, the EU isn't particularly keen. I was discussing this with a Ukrainian colleague the other day, someone fully behind the move towards closer ties with Western Europe, and we both came to the conclusion that the EU had vastly understimated how much money it would cost to bring Ukraine out of Russia's orbit. If the intention was to rebuild the country's economic and financial structure to ensure it wasn't predominantly reliant on Russia in the future and could, one day, be a candidate country for membership, there needs to be an international commitment to supporting that with hundreds of billions of Euro. Weaselling out of offering €2bn to keep the lights on this winter isn't a good sign any real effort will be made to follow through on the hints and half promises made earlier in the year. Ultimately, the EU probably can't afford to back Ukraine properly and is justifiably concerned about where a lot of the money would go if it did.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 22 October 2014 06:25 (three years ago) Permalink

"from the southern seas to the Polish lands" amirite guys

intelligent, expressive males within the greater metropolitan (Bananaman Begins), Wednesday, 22 October 2014 10:20 (three years ago) Permalink

sv what do you think of kaspaov

the final twilight of all evaluative standpoints (nakhchivan), Friday, 24 October 2014 21:55 (three years ago) Permalink

*kasparov*

the final twilight of all evaluative standpoints (nakhchivan), Friday, 24 October 2014 21:55 (three years ago) Permalink

Not a fan. I think he's broadly sincere but extremely naive. On paper a lot of his proposals have sounded reasonable in the past but his alignment with US neocons and various dubious oligarchs have always given the impression that he's being used as a palatable front for much more sinister interests. He has become increasingly hysterical in his rhetoric in recent years too. The Other Russia concept of a broad anti-Putin alliance spanning the whole political spectrum was interesting for a while but at this stage he's just an irrelevance playing to a Western gallery. He doesn't even have any real support from Russian liberals. Navalny is a more significant figure these days.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 24 October 2014 22:18 (three years ago) Permalink

If the exit polls are to be believed, Poroshenko has done much worse than expected and Yatseniuk much better.

БПП (23%), "НАРОДНЫЙ ФРОНТ"(21,3%), "САМОПОМИЧ"(13,2%), ОБ (7,6%), РАДИКАЛЬНАЯ ПАРТИЯ(6,4%), "СВОБОДА"(6,3%), "БАТЬКИВЩИНА"(5,6%) НАЦ ЭП

Real success for the Samopomich party too. Lyashko's Radical Party was polling at around 12% previously, so to see them take only half of that is a relief. Timoshenko polling behind Svoboda looks like total humiliation.

Hopefully this will mean a fairly stable Poroshenko / Yatseniuk coalition that doesn't need to draw support from the further-right.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Sunday, 26 October 2014 18:28 (three years ago) Permalink

Should probably post that in English, really:

БПП (23%) - Blok Petro Poroshenko (centre-right, pro-European, nationalist) - party of the current President.

"НАРОДНЫЙ ФРОНТ"(21,3%)- People's Front (hard-right, pro-European, nationalist) - party of former PM Arseniy Yatseniuk. Previously closer to Poroshenko but turned increasingly to the right as the relationship faltered.

"САМОПОМИЧ"(13,2%) - Samopomich (Christian Conservative, pro-European, nationalist) - effectively a regional party with a lot of supporters in the West of the country. Hanna Hopko, who headed their party list, is one to watch out for in the future, she was very active in the protests and has picked up a lot of attention internationally. Second on the list was Semen Semenchenko who was the head of the anti-separatist Donbass Battalion militia.

ОБ (7,6%) - Opposition Block (conservative, pro-Russian) - disorganised remnant of the Party Of The Regions, previously the largest party in Ukraine.

РАДИКАЛЬНАЯ ПАРТИЯ(6,4%) - Radical Party (far-right, pro-European, nationalist) - wildcard party led by Oleh Lyashko, an antisemitic vigilante nutcase.

"СВОБОДА"(6,3%) - Svoboda (neo-Nazi, nationalist)

"БАТЬКИВЩИНА"(5,6%) - Bat'kivshina (conservative, pro-European, nationalist) - Yulia Timoshenko's party. Seems to have completely collapsed.

Turnout was around 40% nationally, though as low as 16% in Odessa.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Sunday, 26 October 2014 19:11 (three years ago) Permalink

http://i.imgur.com/IfZYfc2.png

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Sunday, 26 October 2014 19:19 (three years ago) Permalink

Anyone interested can keep track of the results as they come in here:

http://www.cvk.gov.ua/pls/vnd2014/wp300pt001f01=910.html

With a third of the vote counted, Yatseniuk's party is actually fractionally in front of Poroshenko's, though to all intents and purposes, it's a dead heat.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Monday, 27 October 2014 08:05 (three years ago) Permalink

good luck ukraine

intelligent, expressive males within the greater metropolitan (Bananaman Begins), Monday, 27 October 2014 10:09 (three years ago) Permalink

Still only 72% of ballots counted but it looks like the proportion of the Fascist vote going to Lyashko was underestimated and Svoboda might just miss the 5% threshold for PR representation as a result. They are at 4.7% at the moment.

Positives, if things stay as they, are would be that between them, the three main parties should be able to form a stable government in the short term. The worst case scenario of Lyashko getting 15% and getting to act as kingmaker has been avoided. Svoboda will probably miss out on PR seats. Timoshenko faces at least a couple of years in the wilderness. There are a few interesting new faces (Mustafa Nayem, Hanna Hopko, etc). Yatseniuk's rep as a safe pair of hands might mean the EU is more likely to open the purse strings if he is PM.

Negatives are zero representation from parties that can credibly be called liberal, progressive or leftist. No parties that can credibly claim to bridge ethnic gap. Only voices for Russian Ukrainians are the dregs of the party run out of town (meaning most had nobody worth voting for, and didn't bother). Nobody to act as a break on the rush to IMF austerity. Approx 14% of the vote for Fascist parties. Two of the six parties explicitly controlled by oligarchs, at least three of the remaining four covertly controlled by them (not sure about Samopomich but wouldn't be surprised). No sign of grass roots politics taking hold.

Despite his recently discovered appreciation of WW2 war criminals, Poroshenko is probably the closest thing to a European moderate and losing so much ground to Yatseniuk isn't good news either.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Monday, 27 October 2014 18:57 (three years ago) Permalink

kinda lol but mostly sad

intelligent, expressive males within the greater metropolitan (Bananaman Begins), Tuesday, 28 October 2014 09:42 (three years ago) Permalink

RT is going to launch a dedicated UK channel this week:

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/oct/28/kremlin-rt-uk-news-channel-russia-today?CMP=twt_gu

Not a huge amount of bespoke programming but they've apparently been spending a lot on recruitment so it's likely to grow. No doubt my dad, who watches it religiously for some reason, will be thrilled. If the price of oil keeps dropping the spending on propaganda might scale back, though.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 29 October 2014 08:16 (three years ago) Permalink

Balkanist has been running some great cultural content recently, particularly about turbofolk in Serbia. They're going to do a horror film supplement for Halloween in the next day or two as well.

http://balkanist.net/

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 29 October 2014 08:39 (three years ago) Permalink

RT is kinda fascinating as a repository of stuff which would otherwise never make it onto television in any semi serious form but is instead lent the authoritative news-channel-sheen. max keiser flatly explaining to russell brand how a newly independent scotland should adopt bitcoin as its currency and there's not even really a hint that there might be another credible view

ogmor, Wednesday, 29 October 2014 14:06 (three years ago) Permalink

RT guy on R4 just now not really doing a good job of selling it

DG, Wednesday, 29 October 2014 16:49 (three years ago) Permalink

rt >>>>> r4

the final twilight of all evaluative standpoints (nakhchivan), Wednesday, 29 October 2014 16:54 (three years ago) Permalink

no, come on, you can't seriously be comparing the craven and mendacious propaganda arm of an authoritarian government with Russia Today ho ho ho

intelligent, expressive males within the greater metropolitan (Bananaman Begins), Wednesday, 29 October 2014 16:58 (three years ago) Permalink

That's what the RT guy said

DG, Wednesday, 29 October 2014 16:59 (three years ago) Permalink

Kyiv's oldest and best cinema, Zhovten, burned down last night in what's thought to have been an arson attack.

http://www.kyivpost.com/content/kyiv/kyivs-oldest-cinema-burns-370001.html

It had been the subject of an ongoing land dispute but the suspicion is that it's linked to the fact it was showing Mario Fanfani's Les Nuits d'Ete as part of an LGBT-friendly film festival.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 30 October 2014 08:04 (three years ago) Permalink

cool that ukraine has detached itself from the corrupt, bigoted, authoritarian Russian sphere of influence tho

intelligent, expressive males within the greater metropolitan (Bananaman Begins), Thursday, 30 October 2014 11:08 (three years ago) Permalink

Russia / Ukraine deal on gas has been finalised with the EU acting as guarantor. Someone has come up with $3bn from somewhere to cover old debts and down payment. Means the heating will stay on through the winter, which is great news.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 30 October 2014 22:15 (three years ago) Permalink

The number of people who say they'd vote for Putin again if there was an election tomorrow has dipped below 50% for the first time since the Ukraine crisis started - possibly a hint that there are concerns about sanctions hitting the economy.

http://rt.com/politics/200159-putin-rating-september-peskov/

It's still substantially higher than the 26% he was polling earlier in the year and with Gennady Zyuganov of the Communist Party in second place (with 7%) it's not exactly a sign of greater plurality.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 31 October 2014 08:17 (three years ago) Permalink

This guy has just been made Chief Of Police in Kyiv

http://i.imgur.com/qtKJFsR.jpg

Note the insignia on his shirt.

http://i.imgur.com/YFYCBLx.jpg

He's Deputy Commander of the neo-Nazi Azov militia.

Neither of the two main parties are Fascist in any meaningful sense but clearly there's a perceived need to pander to the extreme right.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Saturday, 1 November 2014 14:42 (three years ago) Permalink

Reports are coming through suggesting that the suspected Moscow "Grand Theft Auto" killers have been caught.

They were apparently putting spikes on roads late at night and shooting anyone whose cars got stopped by them, for no apparent reason. Nothing was ever stolen. They were thought to have killed at least 14 people in the last few months. It sounds a bit like an urban legend but is supposedly 100% true.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 6 November 2014 12:13 (three years ago) Permalink

http://i.imgur.com/O5Jw9hE.png

The Rouble has gone crazy. Was about 50 to the GBP this time last year. Was 71 yesterday, 76 today.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 7 November 2014 08:15 (three years ago) Permalink

Banks are reportedly running out of foreign currency (as they did in Ukraine months ago) because so many people are trying to take their savings out in Dollars and Euro. If it hasn't happened already, i wouldn't be surprised to see them follow Ukraine in limiting the amount of cash people can take out in a day.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 7 November 2014 08:18 (three years ago) Permalink

yikes

sleeve, Friday, 7 November 2014 15:01 (three years ago) Permalink

The "ceasefire", which was never really a ceasefire on either side, looks officially over now. Ukraine has claimed separatists in Donetsk have received a resupply of heavy weaponry from Russia and the Ukrainian army has stepped up shelling of the area. ITAR-TASS says that they've hit a kindergarten, killing several children. The Netherlands have donated €500k worth of what are euphemistically in Ukraine called "wearable anti-cold-systems" (which means warm coats and boots without holes in them) but nobody has committed to donating arms yet. There's speculation that the US Republicans might try to force something through, though idk if they would be allowed to even if they wanted to.

Interesting things happening in Georgia. The firing of the Defense Minister has been seen by some, particularly the fired Defense Minister, as a shift away from Europe and towards Russia. The government has restated that EU membership remains a priority though.

http://www.eurasianet.org/node/70781

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Sunday, 9 November 2014 11:16 (three years ago) Permalink

Azerbaijan has shot down an Armenian helicopter that was apparently flying close to the border of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan proper.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 12 November 2014 13:11 (three years ago) Permalink

More on the Armenia / Azeri helicopter thing:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-12/azerbaijan-says-armenian-helicopter-shot-down-in-conflict-zone.html

“This is the worst military incident in more than 20 years since the cease-fire,” Thomas de Waal, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said by e-mail from Washington.

Seen as a continuation of the incidents that killed around 20 people in the summer, that's probably true.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 13 November 2014 08:29 (three years ago) Permalink

http://i.imgur.com/k2QHZ7m.png

Not really region-specific but the ability of any currency to drop about 15% in an hour and a quarter when the automated trades are triggered is fairly terrifying. Ukraine keeps ploughing money into trying to stabilise the UAH and the effects last about a week before being totally wiped out. I'm not sure what you can do in that situation.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 13 November 2014 08:40 (three years ago) Permalink

I think he’s just pulling theories out of his hat to suggest that they’re not much more implausible than the prevailing wisdom, tbh. He is occasionally worth listening to but generally more of a devil’s advocate than a serious analyst these days.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 14 March 2018 08:55 (one month ago) Permalink

Interesting in passing , Kommersant has dug up a story from 1995 in which a lab tech sold Novichok to a hitman who used it to kill a banker on behalf of one of his rivals. You’d hope that Russia keeps a better check on their stocks now than they did back when Aum Shinrikyo were able to buy military attack helicopters on the black market though.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 14 March 2018 10:21 (one month ago) Permalink

i was mildly irritated* by the constant reference to "military grade nerve agents", viz not the kind you can buy across the counter in boots i guess

*lol #subeditorproblems

mark s, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 11:21 (one month ago) Permalink

and my feeling -- admittedly on rereading after SV's mild snort of mockery -- abt the medium piece is that it's less abt "omg all these overlooked assassinations add up to a story that will topple may" than "this is a tougher headwind for the tories than they quite seem to have grasped yet", given what the public are exercised by (high-street poisoning in a salisbury zizzi's)* and cross about (a plague of billionaire oligarchs owning football clubs and whatever else)**

*which fair enough tbh
**bcz this crosses over into territories politicians anxiously want to have a good profile in but mostly only access viz crappy authentocrat posturing

mark s, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 11:31 (one month ago) Permalink

(the weird thing is in the last week or so the alerts i've been getting on my laptop are all from RT, and no one else)

mark s, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 11:42 (one month ago) Permalink

I've been so oblivious to them I thought they were called Russian Times.

calzino, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 11:44 (one month ago) Permalink

it stands for ReTweet iirc

mark s, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 11:45 (one month ago) Permalink

The Medium piece, to me, aligns with a lot of the attacks i've been seeing from the amorphous left (Owen Jones, Paul Mason, arguably Corbyn, etc) suggesting something on a continuum from 'the Tories are too weak to stand up to Russia' to 'Russia did this because they know the Tories are compromised' - with 'compromised' meaning anything from 'have taken money so are unwilling to criticise' to 'have covered up multiple murders'.

In terms of the optics, the bulk of the criticism i've seen of Corbyn recently hasn't been around the 'robust dialogue' line being too weak, it has been the idea that in a serious crisis situation, he was trying to score party-political points.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 14 March 2018 14:28 (one month ago) Permalink

maybe, but that last is a critique from inside the er horse-race bubble i think

mark s, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 14:34 (one month ago) Permalink

I am not sure that's entirely true. My suspicion, which admittedly isn't based on a great deal, is that there are lots of people out there who might like or agree (to some extent) with Corbyn but won't vote for him on the basis that he's not a 'serious politician'. Certainly more than the number who won't vote for him based on the idea that he's a Czech spy. The fetishisation of 'statesmanship' is still a big thing and May's cluelessness over Brexit, etc, has damaged her in that area as well but i'm not sure going on the attack at a time when May was, in theory, fronting up to a dastardly enemy threatening the lives of British bobbies and Zizzi diners alike, is going to go down well.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 14 March 2018 14:50 (one month ago) Permalink

apparently Corbyn was ashen faced after getting jeered in parliament the other day, and didn't get much support from his own, either. But I still think that MP's taking bungs from Russian oligarchs is very pertinent and should be called out. But if it is a losing strategy, then perhaps stfu for the time being.

calzino, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 14:58 (one month ago) Permalink

there's no way to tell in the medium term if it's a winning or a losing strategy -- i like that corbyn is unflappable and completely ignores the conventional wisdoms of commentators (which are always about TODAY'S PANIC and generally forgotten in five days time), and in the VERY long-term he's been right over quite a lot of very big things (such as various wars he opposed, or gay rights or whatever)

the idea that the lesson he's learned from this -- a lesson that done reasonably well for him over recent months -- is suddenly in this instance the wrong lesson is entirely possible! but i think he would look a lot less convincing changing tack and being all hilary benn about this situation

mark s, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 15:10 (one month ago) Permalink

I'm sorry, it seems to me Corbyn is completely bungling this moment. He is both calling for dialogue and allowing the Russians to do their own tests of the nerve agent (which, yeah, that'll be a believable result...) while going on the offensive over Russian donations. It seems hypocritical? And also stuck in 2003.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 15:11 (one month ago) Permalink

or to put it another way (xp to me), most modern politicians inhabit the space between tactics and strategy, while corbyn largely inhabits the space between strategy and ethics: how this will work out for him here depends on the degree to which the government fuck things up, or i suppose possibly don't fuck things up (but as far as i can see not fucking things up means tacking closer to his line than to sating the yells of the backbenches)

corbyn was of course correct in 2003

mark s, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 15:20 (one month ago) Permalink

And we are not in 2003 anymore

Frederik B, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 15:21 (one month ago) Permalink

i know reading other people's posts carefully isn't part of your skillset fred but why not try and put my argument together based on what i just wrote

mark s, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 15:23 (one month ago) Permalink

Because it's boring and banal. Sorry.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 15:37 (one month ago) Permalink

The idea that somewhat nonsensical statements from Corbyn aren't as bad because it's Corbyn being Corbyn and he is interested in long run things and was right fifteen years ago. It's besides the point of what to do in this specific situation.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 15:39 (one month ago) Permalink

OK:
corbs believes that he really doesn't need to "win the day", day after day (this would be tactics): he believes that sticking to his line -- his ethos -- will gradually win him the medium-term argument: the evidence over the past year suggests that to date he's right about this and that this strategy has worked for him (partly of course bcz may's govt has so effectively worked for him). this is why suddenly shrieking "may is a genius and war is now good!" will (a) not actually advance his own cause here and now, and (b) not at all advance his politics. even if he did it, he wouldn't win the day, he'd just hand the win to her

the idea that the lesson he's learned from this… is suddenly in this instance the wrong lesson is entirely possible!

the most boring and banal point of all presumably^^^

mark s, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 16:04 (one month ago) Permalink

A bunch of the Shadow Cabinet are apparently poised to resign over his statement today.

He is right on following proper international / legal processes, though - if only because it gives the Russian government less room to argue it's a stitch-up. iirc there's an obligation to hand over samples in cases where a party to the non-proliferation treaty is accused of a breach and the more eyes on this (UN, EU, etc) the better in making the case.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 14 March 2018 16:11 (one month ago) Permalink

Fred seeing how many continents he can be wrong on at once.

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Wednesday, 14 March 2018 16:20 (one month ago) Permalink

another really good reason for not judging world events in terms of the very short-term is surely donald trump's approach to, well, everything

mark s, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 16:31 (one month ago) Permalink

Leonid Ragozin on Twitter made the points wrt May's response that you can't "partake in the robbery of Russian people and display outrage at the criminal acts of your business partners in this lucrative enterprise" and "can’t reform Russia without reforming the West as a whole". Looking towards the longer term, it'll be interesting to see how much focus Corbyn puts on that idea.

London is a safe haven / clearing house for ill-gotten wealth from across the world, not just the former Soviet Union, and tbh, it's a cost/benefit that works out massively in our favour. Lobbying cash isn't close to being as big an issue here as it is elsewhere, there's minimal direct impact on politics / foreign policy - other than in the few cases, potentially like this one, that something unexpected flares up (and possibly the impact of house prices in London). It's a virtually risk-free license to print money and it's appallingly immoral. Other than hints at new taxes on non-doms, it's not something Labour has really focused on out of power - and was massively complicit in power.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 14 March 2018 16:47 (one month ago) Permalink

what does "partake in the robbery of Russian people" refer to exactly? oligarchs transferring money from russia to london?

mark s, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 16:53 (one month ago) Permalink

Yes, absolutely.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 14 March 2018 16:53 (one month ago) Permalink

iirc there's an obligation to hand over samples in cases where a party to the non-proliferation treaty is accused of a breach and the more eyes on this (UN, EU, etc) the better in making the case.

― Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), 14. marts 2018 17:11 (forty-six minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

The British government says this is wrong.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 17:12 (one month ago) Permalink

Leonid Ragozin on Twitter made the points wrt May's response that you can't "partake in the robbery of Russian people and display outrage at the criminal acts of your business partners in this lucrative enterprise" and "can’t reform Russia without reforming the West as a whole". Looking towards the longer term, it'll be interesting to see how much focus Corbyn puts on that idea.

London is a safe haven / clearing house for ill-gotten wealth from across the world, not just the former Soviet Union, and tbh, it's a cost/benefit that works out massively in our favour. Lobbying cash isn't close to being as big an issue here as it is elsewhere, there's minimal direct impact on politics / foreign policy - other than in the few cases, potentially like this one, that something unexpected flares up (and possibly the impact of house prices in London). It's a virtually risk-free license to print money and it's appallingly immoral. Other than hints at new taxes on non-doms, it's not something Labour has really focused on out of power - and was massively complicit in power.

― Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), 14. marts 2018 17:47 (twenty-five minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

This I agree with completely, and it would be great if Corbyn pursued this point going forward. But right now he seems to be undermining it with his other responses. You can't both find the situation so dire that it calls for the kind of reforms that needs to be put in place, while also alluding to it maybe being a governmental lie.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 17:14 (one month ago) Permalink

The position is that there's overwhelming evidence that it was either a state-sanctioned attack or that Russia has lost control of some of its stock and, either way, the onus is on Russia to respond and, at the same time, there should be a full, comprehensive and transparent investigation. That seems entirely proper. The rationale for May's position (which, again, is that it's "highly likely" that the Russian government was involved, not conclusively proven) is at least partly based on inference. Corbyn's call to "follow the evidence" doesn't imply that it's a government lie, just that the case would benefit from being strengthened.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 14 March 2018 17:22 (one month ago) Permalink

counterpoint from an unexpected corner:

I can’t believe that Putin is so stupid ( which he isn’t ) as to kill on the streets in The UK. The timing is ridiculous !
Let’s give him the sample he’s asking for as it’s plausible that it’s a plot to smear him and Moscow before the Worlld Cup !! Please be careful @theresa_may

— Peter Stringfellow (@PJStringfellow) March 13, 2018

mark s, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 17:24 (one month ago) Permalink

lol

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 14 March 2018 17:25 (one month ago) Permalink

My secret identity revealed at last.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 14 March 2018 17:25 (one month ago) Permalink

based on my own experience in the closely related field of, like, life, each time i think "naw i don't need to check that, it's probably the way i think it is" i am 100% wrong every time

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 14 March 2018 17:38 (one month ago) Permalink

Here is the statement from Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman about his stance on Russia - via PA pic.twitter.com/VESaFCZo2T

— Sam Coates Times (@SamCoatesTimes) March 14, 2018

Corbyns spokesman definitely implies that the government is lying.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 17:43 (one month ago) Permalink

And as ShariVari says, it's not really a difficult question whether or not Russia is to blame. If it's Novichok, they are to blame. They either did this, or lost control. It's nothing like 2003.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 17:53 (one month ago) Permalink

https://www.thecanary.co/global/2018/03/15/new-evidence-left-theresa-mays-russian-spy-story-tatters/

no that shit doesn't necessarily exist and if it does can be made in a garage pron. garridge.

Hunt3r, Thursday, 15 March 2018 19:25 (one month ago) Permalink

but its a Canary link!

calzino, Thursday, 15 March 2018 19:30 (one month ago) Permalink

In other news, Ukrainian domestic politics is still 0_o.

https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-savchenko-terror-plot-accusations/29101770.html

The “Ukrainian Joan of Arc” Nadezhda Savchenko, who was hailed by the international media as a potential future President and garlanded with accolades by Poroshenko when she was released from Russian prison has:

a) been accused of plotting a coup / to massacre the Ukrainian parliament
b) accused (possibly accidentally) the Speaker of the Rada of orchestrating false flag sniper killings during the Maidan protests

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Thursday, 15 March 2018 23:31 (one month ago) Permalink

The exit polls suggest Project 70/70 (Putin winning 70% of the vote from a 70% turnout) has fallen short of the mark. It’s currently looking like 72% vote share from what would be considered a disappointing 59% turnout, despite the prospect of discounted buckwheat at polling stations.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Sunday, 18 March 2018 18:43 (one month ago) Permalink

I find such blatant electoral blackmail completely bulgur tbh.

calzino, Sunday, 18 March 2018 19:46 (one month ago) Permalink

*snort*

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Sunday, 18 March 2018 20:46 (one month ago) Permalink

Good luck rossiyskaya federatsiya

(robot gives Mum a hot dirty slap) (Bananaman Begins), Sunday, 18 March 2018 20:56 (one month ago) Permalink

I find such blatant electoral blackmail completely bulgur tbh.

― calzino, Sunday, March 18, 2018 3:46 PM (four hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

you spelt that funny

motorpsycho nightmare winningham (Hadrian VIII), Monday, 19 March 2018 00:22 (one month ago) Permalink

A video is now being shown in Ukraine's parliament of MP Nadia Savchenko talking with alleged co-conspirators - she's talking about killing the country's President and other leaders in parliament...

— Jonah Fisher (@JonahFisherBBC) March 22, 2018

Savchenko currently chuckling to herself, sitting in parliament, as the video of her describing where to put the grenades is being played. The whole thing is very odd.

In other news, Kommersant, RBK, Ekho, Dozd and RTVi, some of Russia’s leading press orgs, are boycotting all future coverage of the Russian parliament after an MP who’d essentially admitted to sexually harrassing three women was cleared by the ethics board.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Thursday, 22 March 2018 11:32 (four weeks ago) Permalink

Is it significant or unusual that so many press orgs are boycotting, or par for the course?

Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 22 March 2018 12:30 (four weeks ago) Permalink

Absolutely unprecedented afaict.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Thursday, 22 March 2018 12:37 (four weeks ago) Permalink

That's insane about the terrorist/coup plot. She's ... anti-Russian, pro Ukraine independence? So she wanted to blow up a bunch of Russian gov't proxies?

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 22 March 2018 12:50 (four weeks ago) Permalink

She’s a fierce Ukrainian nationalist but beyond that, it’s not entirely clear what she is up to. Her position is that politicians are weak / cowardly and that a military coup to clear the decks, possibly followed by some kind of military rule, would get the country back on track.

I don’t think she views the government as a Russian proxy, just the wrong kind of Ukrainians. Inevitably other Ukrainian nationalists who back the government are accusing her of being a Russian plant, etc.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Thursday, 22 March 2018 13:04 (four weeks ago) Permalink

Savchenko has been stripped of her immunity and arrested now.

On a more positive note, Ryanair has announced it is going to start flying to Kyiv Borispil this year. A previous agreement had fallen through under pressure from the Ukrainian state airline. It will be interesting to see how much uptake there is. It’s seen as a symbolic victory for those pushing for closer integration with Europe. Hopefully it can boost tourism beyond stag groups and sex pests, etc.

The Russian media boycott now has 22 participants including, rather strangely, Spetznaz Rossii - an outlet that appears to mostly cover commandos / special forces and related news. It isn’t just the usual list of liberal / opposition places.

On a related note, a male journalist has accused Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the far-right leader and presidential candidate, of groping him.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Friday, 23 March 2018 18:09 (four weeks ago) Permalink

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/democracy-post/wp/2018/03/29/its-time-to-go-after-vladimir-putins-money-in-the-west/

Fine article on what could be done, that should dovetail with wishes for better financial regulation quite nicely.

Frederik B, Friday, 30 March 2018 17:12 (three weeks ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

This is great:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-43797176

Russia banned Telegram on the basis that it’s widely used by terrorists and the owners wouldn’t share encryption keys with the government. In trying to block it, the internet censor Roskomnadzor has managed to accidentally block four million IP addresses, including their own. Somehow they have also managed to accidentally unblock all the sites that they had previously made inaccessible over the years. The peak may have been when they accidentally blocked one of RT’s stations at the exact point the head of Roskomnadzor was giving an interview.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Tuesday, 17 April 2018 19:43 (four days ago) Permalink


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